A joint undercover investigation by BBC Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered evidence that the Ethiopian government is using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression.
Posing as tourists the team of journalists travelled to the southern region of Ethiopia. There they found villages where whole communities are starving, having allegedly been denied basic food, seed and fertiliser for failing to support Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The investigation has also gathered evidence of mass detentions, the widespread use of torture and extra-judicial killings by Ethiopian government forces.
Yet Western donors including Britain – which is the third largest donor to Ethiopia – stand accused of turning a blind eye by continuing to provide aid money despite being warned about the abuses. The aid in question is long-term development aid, not the emergency aid provided in response to the current drought in Ethiopia and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa.
Ambassador Abdirashid Dulane, the Deputy Head of Ethiopia’s UK Mission, has rejected the allegations saying that the Newsnight/Bureau report “lacked objectivity, even-handedness”. “The sole source of the story was opponents of Ethiopia who have been rejected by the electorate, and time and again it has been shown that their allegations are unfounded”.
Our reporters visited one village in southern Ethiopia with a population of about 1,700 adults. Despite being surrounded by other communities which are well fed and prosperous, this village, which cannot be named for fear of reprisals, is starving. We were told that in the two weeks prior to our team’s arrival five adults and 10 children had died.
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